While you can't predict an emergency, you can prepare for them.

And that's what Riverside Tappahannock Hospital continues to do. Clinical staff recently hosted two training sessions, bringing together first responders and emergency department medical teams to further enhance their care coordination of patients.

Gathering together emergency room physicians, surgeons, nurses and emergency medical providers, a seminar held in January was designed to further help coordinate services when residents and visitors to the upper Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck regions suffer traumatic injuries.

The January training brought the first responders into the emergency department to showcase exactly what information is needed once a patient arrives and to give the entire response team an enhanced understanding of the continuum of care.Rural Trauma Class

In addition to the seminar that was held in January, nurses from Riverside Tappahannock Hospital completed further trauma education recently as part of their ongoing professional training.

"We want to get everybody on the same page for the pre-hospital treatment and hospital treatment," said Ruth Adams, nurse manager for the emergency room at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital. "Our approach to trauma is a little bit different than in a city area."

It has to be.

Deaths caused by injuries occur in the upper Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck region at a rate between 83 to 114 people per 100,000 residents, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These are among the highest rates in Virginia, with urban areas such as the Peninsula to include Newport News and Hampton reporting injury death rates of between 25 to 55 people per 100,000 residents. The average injury death rate for Virginia is 53 people per 100,000 residents.

Reasons for the higher death rates in rural areas compared to urban settings are varied. They can involve the increased likelihood of fatal injuries from construction work, to the dangers of agricultural work which has the second-highest occupational death rate behind mining to higher risks of death from residential fires and motor vehicle accidents, according to the CDC.

Traumatic injuries in the region can spike during the summer months when the population of the region surges and people flock to the many rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, brining on injuries in boating incidents.

One of the major factors contributing to the higher rates of death due to traumatic injuries in rural areas is the delay in receiving care and a lack of protocols for patient transfer decisions according to the CDC.

It's protocols and coordination that Riverside Tappahannock Hospital and emergency response crews practiced during its rural trauma education efforts.

Improving the communication between emergency medical service providers is essential in determining whether trauma patients need to be flown out by helicopter to a regional hospital, such as VCU Medical Center, or have the appropriate level of preparation by the trauma team at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, Adams said.

"The hospital's ongoing trauma training has established a team approach to handling trauma patients, ensuring a more coordinated and systematic method to handling people who have suffered serious injuries," she added

The nurses at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital are "very qualified to care for trauma patients," Adams said. "We are well trained and are using the latest technology every day to help in the care of the trauma patients."

Published: May 21, 2015